What are the main qualities of an efficient human translator?

To become a proficient translator is no easy task; it requires time, dedication, knowledge, accuracy and, some would say, some art as well. The fact is no machine can ever replace a human translator. It’s not easy to be an efficient human translator, and it’s no easy task finding one either.

We believe this post is useful for everyone who is involved in any form with the translation business, be it for the person who hires translation agencies, be it for those who translate e-mail messages and other documents of any kind on a weekly basis.

The four main qualities of an efficient human translator are:

Language expertise:

An efficient human translator must be fluent in at least two languages, in order to fully understand them. However, this is not enough: he/she must also be a native speaker of the language he/she is translating to, which means he/she has acquired the language during the first years of life. An efficient human translator must also have specific studies in the area of translation, or, at least, some years of professional experience. Becoming a proficient translator, as we said before, requires a lot of time and dedication.

Excellent researching skills:

Being fluent in two languages isn’t all it takes to be an efficient human translator. Exemplary researching skills are also necessary. A proficient translator knows what to look for, how to look for it and where to find it. It’s impossible for a human being to know every single word and expression there is, even if you are the most dedicated and interested person in the whole world. This is why knowing how to research efficiently and accurately are such important tools for a translator.

Good communication skills:

Being a language expert and an excellent researcher are, as we said before, very important qualities for a proficient translator, but they are certainly not the only ones. Being able to speak well in two or more languages and knowing how to do good research aren’t enough if you are not a good communicator. Being a good communicator, at an expert level, means you know how to deliver a message the right way, enabling your audience to understand perfectly what you intend to convey. A translator has to be a good communicator to ensure the message of the author in the source language will be just the same as in the target language.

Dedication and organisation:

Finally, a proficient translator must also be a very dedicated and organised person. Translating well means having a lot of different things on your mind, but also on your desktop, all at the same time. On their work space, translators may have dictionaries, encyclopedias and all kinds of other reference material. And, on their mind, they must always have the author’s main idea and the characteristics of the audience, besides having both languages running at full speed all the time. If the translator isn’t an organised and focused person, translating, especially long documents, will be a nightmare.

At Letrário we collaborate with a vast number of professional, proficient translators, and we’ll be able to assist you with any translation project you may need help with. To request a quote click here.